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SARA Learning Activities


This part of the site includes learning activities for use with the Interculture Project SARA (Student Accounts of Residence Abroad) database.   A guide to searching the database is available here.

The activities are intended to help students prepare for living and working abroad through engaging with and reflecting on accounts of others' experiences, and to help students cultivate intercultural awareness as a significant element of their personal and professional development and thereby to enhance their future employability.

The aims of the activities are:

  • to foster an awareness of and an openness to difference both within and between cultures, while resisting the formation of misleading stereotypes;
  • to encourage an appreciation of the multiple possible interpretations of any social or personal interaction, particularly in an intercultural context;
  • to explore the influence of aspects of self, such as attitudes, behaviour and cultural expectations, on adaptation to life in a foreign culture;
  • to consider the particular intercultural issues which may arise in the contexts in which students will be living and working;
  • to encourage reflection on the residence abroad experience, by asking returnees to place their own experiences in the context of other students' narratives;
  • to further an awareness of the intercultural issues involved in communication in the target language within the foreign environment.
We have tried to make these activities and exercises adaptable to the particular circumstances in which you and your students are working.  They should not be seen as an exhaustive list of possibilities, rather as a selection of possibilities for working with the data, which we hope will stimulate your own ideas as well as offering some potential starting points.

We would be very happy to hear about other ways in which you have made use of the database, particularly if you would permit us to add them to the website.  We can be contacted on

    Activities include searches of the database in terms of student expectations, both general and specific to the context in which they will be working; searches for advice on successful intercultural experiences;  fictional diary entries, a creative writing activity in which students draw on the database for inspiration; activities based around intercultural incidents; activities of a more traditional academic nature, such as essays and presentations; and a debriefing exercise for use with returnees in which they reflect on their experiences and compare them to the database.

    While working with the database we would hope that tutors and students also take the opportunity to think about themselves not only in the residence abroad context but also within their own culture.  While the database alone does not in itself encourage this sort of reflection, some of the activities suggested on the site, such as the search by expectation and the fictional diary entry, are designed to encourage students to reflect on themselves and their own experiences as well as working with the data.

    Activities are coded with an icon to demonstrate their suitability for use:

         before residence abroad
         during residence abroad
         after residence abroad

    To use these activities while working with the database online, you can either print out the page that you wish to work with, or download all the activities as a formatted RTF file from here.